Nepal’s first batch of midwives to be produced next year

May 05, 2018

The Himalayan Times, 5 May 2018

As Nepal is set to produce the first batch of professional midwives next year, experts said that well-trained midwives are uniquely positioned to provide patient-centred care that a woman needs during pregnancy and childbirth.

The government started the Bachelor in Midwifery course in Nepal for the first time last year, honouring its long-term strategy of making midwifery an independent profession in the country by producing professional midwives. The National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) under the Bir Hospital and the Kathmandu University are currently running the Bachelor in Midwifery Science. Both NAMS and KU have a total of 29 students who are set to enter the country’s health system at the end of 2019.

Elevating the profession of midwifery through this formal education programme will help Nepal’s future midwives gain respect and credibility as public health professionals, said Kristine Blokhus, Deputy Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Talking to The Himalayan Times today on the occasion of the International Day of the Midwife, she said, “It’s important for doctors and other healthcare professionals of Nepal to accept midwives, who provide respectful and culturally sensitive care as peers and equals.”

The country now needs a recruitment, deployment and retention policy of midwives, said Prof Kiran Bajracharya, President of Midwifery Society of Nepal. She said that in the countries that have midwifery education, well-trained midwives have saved lives of women and newborns, thus reducing maternal and infant mortality rates.

According to UNFPA, well-trained midwives could help avert roughly two thirds of all maternal and newborn deaths. They could also deliver up to 87 per cent of all essential sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health services, the UN reproductive health and rights agency said.

Prof Bajracharya further said midwives contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they play a key role in preventing maternal and newborn deaths.

Reducing the maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births is one of the key targets for Nepal. According to Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2016, the country has 239 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.